September 22, 2014
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Quartet
Don Fowler

(Senior actors shine)

At last! A movie about seniors acting their ages.
No Schwarzennegers and Stallones acting like they are macho superheroes. What we have are senior citizens living with their memories in a British home for retired musicians.
Dustin Hoffman directed this lovely little movie, filled with years of talent, including Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins and a host of aging actors and actual musicians.
The residents of Beecham House are planning their big fundraiser, necessary to keep the home open. They lack a major drawing card, and ticket sales aren't going well.
Enter Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), a crotchety old diva who has sworn to never sing again. To further complicate the situation, Reggie, her former husband (Tom Courtenay) resides at the home. He has never forgiven her for divorcing him.
Will the couple get back together? Will the diva sing in the fundraiser?
The answer is fairly obvious. How they get there makes for a funny, poignant and lovely little movie.
The movie can be sad at times, as senior citizens who were once adored for their talents are now living with the memories of those glorious years, and dealing with all of the problems of aging. Michael Gambon stands out as the pompous concert director who is a control freak.
Billy Connolly provides comic relief as the dirty old man who stalks the young ladies who work at Beecham House.
Pauline Collins is wonderful as Sissy, showing signs of Alzheimer’s and the only one who befriends Horton.
A scene where Courtenay teaches a high school class about opera, comparing it to their rap music, is one of many realistic, classic moments in the film.
The bittersweet movie drew record crowds to the Avon last weekend, where the audience at the Sunday matinee clapped at the end. With so few quality movies to attract an older audience, this is the one movie they should flock to.
Not that the younger crowd won't enjoy it. With the music of Verdi prominent in the background, and a mature look at the situations most people will face some day, this is a movie for all generations.
Rated PG-13 with a few spurts of profanity that sound much funnier coming from "proper" British seniors.


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